Five ofsted officials are paid more than the Prime Minister, with pound;150,000-plus salaries, compared to just one civil servant in the Department for Education (DfE), it was revealed this week.
A union leader said teachers would find the high pay for top staff at the education watchdog, with a budget 260 times smaller than the DfE, "offensive".
The figures emerged as part of a drive for more transparency in government by the coalition.
All senior civil servants with salaries higher than pound;150,000 - Prime Minister David Cameron earns pound;142,500 - have been listed by the Cabinet Office.
Ofsted - a non ministerial government department - had five, with chief inspector Christine Gilbert paid pound;196,000, two directors paid between pound;160,000 and pound;170,000 and two more paid between pound;150,000 and pound;155,000.
The average salary for a primary head is about pound;52,000 and about pound;73,000 for a secondary head.
Vince Cable, business secretary, called for top public sector earners to be "more restrained".
"There's been massive pay inflation in top salaries. and it frankly isn't affordable and there's got to be more discipline," he said.
Ofsted had a budget of pound;215 million last financial year, compared to more than pound;56 billion at the Department for Education.
But at the DfE only David Bell, the permanent secretary and a former Ofsted chief inspector, had a salary of more than pound;150,000.
Department sources said the higher number of highly paid Ofsted officials had been noted and that in future new employees would not be on such levels of pay without a sign-off from the Treasury.
Ben Slade, head of Manor Community College, Cambridge, said he had not heard of any of the Ofsted officials apart from Ms Gilbert.
"I struggle to see what they can possibly be doing to earn more than the Prime Minister, short of causing unnecessary bureaucracy for schools," he said.
Mary Bousted, Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary, said: "Teachers and lecturers will find these salaries offensive but they need to be considered in the general context of top people's pay."
Ms Gilbert could have been on a higher salary but turned down a performance-related bonus last year.
Ofsted is understood to have had the salaries for John Goldup and Patrick Leeson approved by the Cabinet Office last year.
There were allegations of cronyism when Lorraine Langham was appointed Ofsted's director of corporate services in 2007. Ms Langham's PR company, Verve Communications, had a major contract with Tower Hamlets Council when Ms Gilbert was the east London authority's chief executive.
The council's scrutiny committee found that the deal could have been "more closely managed" after its value for Verve increased from pound;215,000 when the contract was awarded in July 2005 to pound;913,000 when it finished in October 2006.
But Ofsted firmly rebutted any suggestion of cronyism, stating Ms Langham's appointment had been on merit, impartial and robust.
This week an Ofsted spokeswoman said: "In order to provide the best possible service for children, young people and parents, Ofsted seeks to appoint the most talented individuals. We have been particularly keen to attract talent from outside the civil service, including from local government."
Naked civil servants
Department for Education
David Bell, permanent secretary, pound;180,000-pound;184,999
- Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, pound;196,000
- Lorraine Langham, corporate services director, pound;165,000-pound;169,999
- Melanie Hunt, development learning and skills director, pound;160,000- pound;164,999
- John Goldup, development social care director, pound;150,000-pound;154,999
- Patrick Leeson, development education and care director, pound;150,000- pound;154,999.